Galleria Stein, in collaboration with Archivio Luciano e Carla Fabro, is presenting an exhibition of the work of Luciano Fabro (1936-2007), in both the expansive spaces in Pero and the gallery’s historic venue on Corso Monforte.
The exhibition conveys the salient stages in the career of one of the most important artists of the postwar period, an authentically innovative figure within the tradition of Italian sculpture. Over the years Fabro availed himself of materials that had contrasting and distinctive qualities: bed linens and silk (evoking the lightness and rigor of classical art); iron, lead, marble and bronze (in many cases subverting their weight and solidity, with truly surprising inventions in their installation); glass, mirrors and crystal. Using his research to expand the materials’ expressive possibilities, Fabro reconsidered sculptural form, in an open dialectic, or in what one might call a play of resonances and mirrorings, between materials, meaning and context. An extreme conceptual tension, often carried to the limits of ironical nonchalance, is seen in every work, beginning with the titles, and acts to multiply the significance, without ever indulging in the probable or the relative or in the viewer’s subjective judgment. For Fabro, the fact that there are many viewpoints and that art is a space of attention within which a completely special game is played, never signifies giving in to the imponderable or to chance. One might say that Fabro replaced the installation practice typical of Arte Povera (of which he was a leading figure) with the regulative idea of habitat, namely a place in which the viewer and artist accompany each other in a new regime of visibility. This challenges the concept of a work of art that participates in a space that is no longer pictorial, but is, instead, concrete and real, where the experience of seeing is brought back to a refined simplicity. This rigorous idea of attentive and participatory seeing is the key to gaining access to Luciano Fabro’s experimental poetics.
In the series of works that were exhibited in his first solo exhibition, at the Vismara gallery in Milan in 1965 (an exhibition now recapitulated at the Corso Monforte gallery), there was already evidence of Fabro’s interest in apparently simple and banal phenomena, such as the way in which an object behaves in space. All the work from those early years in Milan, permeated with the influence of Manzoni and Fontana, focuses on the perception of the space in a relationship between external and internal reality, and on the idea of the work of art as a necessary tool for interpreting experience and for developing new levels of awareness. The installation in the large rooms in Pero, in contrast, proposes a reinterpretation of some of the most significant episodes in the artist’s subsequent research. In the now famous series of works, from the Italie (Italies) to the Piedi (Feet), to the Attaccapanni (Clotheshangers), up to the marble pieces that examine Greek mythology, Luciano Fabro is explicit about his conceptual approach, overturning the commonly accepted symbolic function of known forms, the silhouettes of which, created in various materials, are positioned in the space in unusual and surprising ways. The intention is always to induce in the viewer a self-aware experience of the space, carried out with all the senses and without preconceptions. But he now develops an esthetic power and asserts an expressive modality that is more committed to the construction of new forms. In these works Fabro revives monumental dimensions, a sumptuous concept and an artisanal way of working that brings to mind the greatest Italian tradition, resorting to precious materials such as marble, glass and silk, and above all to color and light. He does so without ever renouncing ironic nuance or a tone of insatiable and unpredictable experimentation. It is as if his entire path, up to his mature work, were working toward what is perhaps his most important and least exhibited sculpture, Lo Spirato (The Deceased, 1968-73), where the body of the artist is the fluctuating trace of a marble veil, sculpting an absence that is not a void, but a turn in meaning that turns and turns again, in the search for mortal perfection.